Cowboys centre Kane Linnett has urged Country selectors to remember to look north when the representative season approaches as he eyes the next step to a possible State of Origin berth with New South Wales.
Although he has been domiciled in north Queensland for the past two seasons, Linnett's junior days were spent playing for Port Kembla in the Wollongong district competition and he is hoping to use a strong start to 2014 to push his claims for inclusion in the City-Country fixture at Dubbo on Sunday, May 4.
Linnett was one of only two Cowboys to play all 25 games last season and after experiencing what representative football has to offer with Scotland at the Rugby League World Cup, the 25-year-old is eyeing off another rep jumper in 2014.
"It was awesome," Linnett said of his World Cup experience. "I had a really good time over there... I've never really played any rep footy and I really enjoyed it and hopefully I can play a bit more rep footy down the track.
"I'd love to play a bit more so hopefully I can start the season off well and I might be able to get into that Country team and show them what I can do.
"I'm coming into my fifth year in the NRL now and I'm definitely a lot more experienced and I'd love to get that opportunity this year. You can talk it but you've really got to perform on the field so I look forward to doing that.”
Jamal Idris and Jack Wighton were the Country centres in their 18-12 win over the City boys last year while in 2012 it was Josh Morris and Matt King who wore the No.3 and 4 jerseys.
Since joining the Cowboys in 2012 Linnett has scored 21 tries from 49 games and was performing well enough in an under-performing Cowboys team last season to be on the verge of selection in Trent Barrett's Country team.
Linnett's preparation for the 2013 season was hampered significantly by an arm infection that hospitalised him for four nights and caused him to miss all of the Cowboys' trial games so he is determined to hit the ground running under new coach Paul Green this season.
"It was a massive setback," he said of the arm infection. "I was unwell there for a good month or so and this year I really want to get into the season flying and hopefully get a really good start to the year and get up the top of that ladder.
"I was probably a little bit off the mark last year – I missed all the trials – so going into this year just really want to try and start the season off well.
"I'd love to play in at least one of [the trials] and then hopefully play in the 9s, that'd be a good experience. I think it will be good. It's a sell-out and a lot of people are talking about it. I've never played in nines so I'm guessing it will be a bit faster."
Following the departure of experienced teammates in Matt Bowen, Dallas Johnson and Ashley Graham in the off-season, Linnett believes he is ready to take on more of a leadership role at the club and to help develop the exciting batch of young outside backs coming through.
"I've been here for three years now and played alongside these boys for a while and definitely feeling a lot more comfortable and just looking forward to having a big year," he said.